Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Monday, 28 April 2008


How do you get rid of these?


The situation with the moths is as follows. I have had various moth repelling sachets etc inside my wardrobe for years. When I got back from Australia in mid-March and went into the bedroom I found a dozen or so moths circling round the bedside lamp. Since then they have proliferated. They are on the ceiling, on the walls and crawling around occasionally on the duvet. Several hundred were lounging around on the carpet at the top of the stairs, and I hoovered them up, which seemed to do the trick. Several times a day I go at the moths on the walls and ceiling with the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner, but more always come to take their place. So far they don't seem to have eaten anything I can find in the wardrobe, but the cashmere is in sealed bags and all my good clothes are in protective covers. I feel that the sachets and whatnot are keeping them out of the wardrobe but in the room itself. Last night I found them inside a pair of Uggs. Another black mark for that footwear.

I just had a long conversation with a very nice man from here, who told me to buy one of these, which I have done.

I have just carefully gone through my wardrobe. So far, no holes. I wonder if I have ever really needed seven little black dresses.

I realise that the moths are emanating not from the wardrobe but from the carpet on the hall stairs outside. As one commenter said, what you need is a crevice tool attached to the vacuum cleaner to carefully go along the edges of the carpet and the area where each stair meets. I have now vacuumed and with my new moth genocide kit which arrived this morning, put down insecticide. The advantage of going through my wardrobe was that I realised what pieces I had too many of and what was missing and bought a top at COS this morning. And a long necklace which it obviously needed. So there's always a silver lining, eh, girls?


Anonymous said...

French supermarkets stock moth balls in all sizes, dimensions and perfumes. In the UK I can find nothing worthwhile - I think cedar balls are a waste of money. So next time you're in Paris pay a quick visit to Carrefour.

The only other way I know is to have a complete spring clean then spray room with insect killer and go out for the day (taking the dog with you).

Whatever you do, do something!

Deja Pseu said...

We've had pretty good luck with cedar blocks, but don't live in a particularly moth-infested area.

Anne said...

Here in Germany I had never seen one of those before. Last year my husband went to the UK for half a year and suddenly we new what moths are. They ate the carpet!!!
The only thing that helped was a professional cleaning (is pest control the right english word?)

Sarah Wyatt said...

My mum had moths eating her carpet under the bed. It appears they like dark places. She removed the carpet cleaned and hoovered it and it is now in my house in the sunlight . The principle for clothing infestation is the same , clean the clothes that are being attacked, clean the area they were in use an insecticide in that area and then store the clothes sealed in clothes bags.

Linda I can always send you some moth balls from HK. Its very funny in the winter here, all the streets reek of moth balls as people reclaim their winter clothes from their trunks.The french ones that smell of other flavours sound better though.

soo said...

Once you have an infestation, there is nothing you can do since the damage can not be undone as the larvae will eat through the fibers. To kill the eggs that may still be left, extreme cold or heat are both effective, thought putting your clothes in the freezer will be less damaging to them.

The fumes from mothballs are said to be carcinogenic...don't know if that's true - I just hate the smell of the ones I've come across. Mothballs will kill them, though, unlike repellents.

Moths are particularly attracted to the smell of dirt and lanolin in wool, so keep clothes clean of food and grease residue.

Some effective repellents exist, but I like using a few drops of essentials oils in the last rinse of my handwashed woollies: rosemary, cedar, lavender and especially pennyroyal are all recommended.

I'm a knitter and a spinner - moths are my enemies!

Tiah said...

Prevention methods are things like cedar (must be sanded every few weeks to keep the sent going) - soaking cotton balls in lavender oil and so on.

To get rid of them - clean everything - freezer for anything that can't be washed/dried. Hoover - make sure bag is instantly emptied outside. Dust. And may want to get somebody to bug bomb your house...but that has negative consequences as well.

We thought we had them, but turns out we have the white hood variety which likes to lay eggs in food. Gross, but at least they are not ruining my clothes.

indigo16 said...

I had my first attack last year which i suspect came from the house not my clothes as we had only lived there a few months. I too am very anti chemicals for a number of reasons. Instead I cleaned and cleared every cupboard, wiped eveything down and packed everything up with sprigs of dried lavender. I even put srigs of lavender in the hoover bag and on the carpet. Then every night as they appeared I spent half and hour killing them and wiping down the wall afterwards, so far this year I have seen one, so I hope it worked. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

The key active ingredient in moth balls (napthalene) has been restricted under the EU's Biocides Directive so you should no longer be able to buy balls that contain this substance as it is nasty. Stateside you can still get moth balls with chemicals that are restricted in the EU such a p-dichlorobenzene. Most of the ones available in the UK are based on the pheromones of the moths to trap the male moths before breeeding. Once you have the larve though you need to treat by thorough cleaning, launder your clothes or freeze them for two days to kill the larve. Use a low level insecticide on your floors and cupboards. These moths also like the dried food in your kitchen so check any open bags of pasta, nuts, flour etc. Oh and if you have if (heaven forfend) pot pourri..

A top tip to prevent reinfestation is to hang a cat/dog flea collar in your cupboard they need to be permethrin based (this is an insecticide also used in headlice control!).

Duchesse said...

You are attacking on two fronts: the infestation and the larvae you can't see. Larvae nestled in the folds of your clothes can survive a professional pest cleaning long enough to munch because the cleaners will not handle your clothes. Freeze clothes for two
days, then wash. If you have drycleanables,
freeze before you take to cleaners as they will not necessarily kill larvae and cleaners will freak out if you tell them you have moths.

I battled moths for years, they even got into sealed trunks. I enlisted a great cleaning lady and she uses crevice tools on every closet, ever time- no problems since then.

Anonymous said...

"You shall defend your woolens, whatever the cost may be, you shall fight in the bedroom, you shall fight in the living room, you shall fight in the halls and in the closets, you shall fight in the last corner; you shall never surrender." Churchill, sort of.

Don't count on mothballs or cedar. You need to hunt down every last one of the little buggers and kill them. Put a fly swatter in every room and check the ceilings for larvae. Vacuum religously. Maybe even get your carpets cleaned. It'll take months but it can be done and your clothes won't smell like mothballs.

Some of the no-rinse woolwashes naturally repel moths.

e said...

vogue uk editor alexandra shulman wrote about this a few years ago i think! you may like to chase her up on it.

i have also read that moths are noth attracted to clean clothes -- rather they are attracted to any body oils, dirts, perspiration and so on left on clothes. so one line of attck is to never store clothes without washign them -- don;t think "oh i will wear that one more time before it needs a wash" and forget about it.
please let us know. i love your thuoghtful, serious blog.

Anonymous said...

I still follow my grandmothers advice and use Cashmere Bouquet soap as a deterrent. Store 3-4 cakes in every drawer and shelf of the wardrobe. As the scent diminishes, replace it. Use the old soap in the bathroom, with the added advantage, that as the soap ages, it lasts longer and doesn't go into a soggy mess when wet.

Anonymous said...

You need to get rid of the larvae. They are are tiny white tubes about 1 cm long with the little grub inside. Completely clean the room, particularly in the dark corners. Then use a crawling insect spray obtainable from any DIY store. Pay particular attention to the edges of the carpet, underfurniture and even the bottom of furniture itself. They can also hang from the ceiling. The flying moths themselves are the males looking to impregnate the females so the traps with pheromones are good to catch them before they catch the female. I have got rid of mine - fingers crossed.

Greying pixie said...

Firstly, I've never heard of Cashmere Bouquet soap. Could anonymous please tell us where to find it?

Also, Linda, regarding your collection of LBDs - there is an extensive and wonderful exhibition at Brighton Museum until June on the history of the LBD - not to be missed. I'm sure it would make your collection of 7 appear quite modest!

Anonymous said...

Greying pixie, Cashmere Bouquet soap is made by Colgate Palmolive, the label says since 1872.
It's relatively cheap and you should find it at most supermarkets.
My grandmother was insistent that no other soap was as effective and probably one of the reasons moths don't like it is because of the scent. It comes in several varieties, lavender and gardenia are 2 of my favourites. It certainly makes your wardrobe smell sweet and clean.

Linda Grant said...

I have googled cashmere bouquet soap UK and come up with nothing. Only available in the US, I believe. Or maybe marketed here under a different name.

Anonymous said...

I'm in Australia. I assumed it was a British product, many of our older products are. But perhaps it's only in Australia?
The website listed on the pack doesn't show Cashmere Bouquet soap, only a liquid soap (yuck) called cashmere!

NMB said...

Anon. I am in Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh)...Where can I find Cashmere Bouquet soap? I remember the soap growing up. Love the scent!